Los Naranjos, Mijas and Valderrama were all Robert Trent Jones designs in the 1970s, arriving a decade after the first wave of RTJ courses on the Costa del Sol at Sotogrande and Las Brisas.
Laid out on a 170-acre site adjacent to Las Brisas, complete with orange grove and river, Los Naranjos initially operated along with its next-door neighbour when it first opened in 1977. Five years later though, the two clubs went their separate ways, with Los Naranjos constructing its own clubhouse and re-sequencing the holes around the new building.
The course is a classic RTJ layout with gently undulating, tree-lined fairways, large eye-catching bunkers, plenty of water features and expansive putting surfaces that are firm and fast – all part of the architect’s “hard par, easy bogey” philosophy where course management must be kept in mind at all times.
Los Naranjos has been Scandinavian-owned since 1989 and a group of Swedish businessmen took control in 2007 from compatriot Percy Nilsson. With an intended investment of tens of millions of euros, the new owners plan to develop Los Naranjos into one of the very best golf facilities in Europe.
I have played this Robert Trent Jones layout twice now and have thoroughly enjoyed every visit. However, when you look back and review the course, as I am doing with a number of Spanish courses, as well as England’s Top 100, you see it in a slightly different light. If I was to say there is nothing particularly special about this course, I don’t think many would disagree with me. The course is neighbours and was once conjoined with Royal Club de Golf Las Brisas (1977). Los Naranjos is very much in the shadow of its emancipated big brother.
The course is a classic Royal Trent Jones layout with gently undulating, tree-lined fairways, large eye-catching bunkers, plenty of water features and expansive putting greens. There are a number of stunning views of the Marbella Mountain – La Honcha. A truly great backdrop.
Los Naranjos has been Scandinavian-owned since 1989 and it’s first language is Swedish, followed by Spanish and then lastly English. Lots of blonde hair.
The club house is a quirky mediterranean terracotta-coloured design that wraps the 18th green. Food is delightful and I have often spent a late afternoon sitting on the veranda, having played no golf, just watching the Henrik Stenson wannabes roll in.
The last time I played the course (April 2019), lipped out for eagle on the par-5 18th in front of French golfing legend, Thomas Levet. A congratulations from him was a lovely end to what was actually a grey and rainy round. A rare occurrence.
I am sure I will return, as afternoons spent here are pleasant, but the promised ‘millions of euros’ worth of investments are still yet to be seen. Some more money needs to be spent on the practice facilities in order to fully compete against its neighbours. A good addition to a Costa del Sol Golf Tour for sure.
This course if a fun smash around. No mad challenges but not boring either. 18 is fabulous finishing hole and the clubhouse is great for a few beers afterwards
Covid-19 has done wonders for the fairways, greens and everything else that got a rest. easy to score on and very comfortable to play, close between holes no major obstacles, just smooth! This is a must to play in Marbella, the club atmosphere is now were else to be found on the coast. The club house is the exact opposite to huge resort buildings were you are alone most of the time. The 14th to 18th is a great way to end a good round with magnificent layouts.
Golf is not always the course its the entire package.
I have played this course way back in time during October 2007 while I was spending my honeymoon in Marbella. The course was in the middle of the renovation and I was lucky to play with Club Pro Jan Sonnevi (who happens to be married to an Argentine lady) and Leopoldo De tomasi who was the Superintendent then and was leading the bunkers renovation proyect.
I can say this is like 2 courses in 1: front 9 very creative with many ondulation changes while back 9 pretty flat and more monotone although par 5 18th is a great finishing hole.
It is a club full of swedish members during their winter and one very well mantained and with a very affordable green fee for what it offers. A good work by RTJ which I would like to visit again.
13 years after my first round I finally replayed it after renovation process was completed. It was a muddy humid almost winter morning but very enjoyable and although I confirm front 9 and back 9 look like just 2 different courses, it is a very fun test with some very good holes. Greens were rolling pretty fast and there were a couple of nasty pin positions (17th!!). Maybe as not well mantained as his fellow neighbour Las Brisas but a great option for the Marbella area.
Played this course on Thursday last week & was impressed overall - fair for all levels of golfer & the general condition of the course was pretty good.
There's a good variety of holes (short, long, dog-legs etc) & the GPS on the carts was top notch - very helpful addition (and if you read the Tip for each hole, it should help your round!!!).
The greens seem to suffer a little with pitch-marks (they’re quite soft & don't repair properly) but that's only a very small niggle as the rest of the course was in good condition.
The marshall on the day, Francisco was very friendly too. Stopped to check us each time he passed & had a great, positive personality.
Ideally located for those staying in & around Banus and the Clubhouse has a great feel / vibe for Drinks & Food afterwards.
We played mid-afternoon on what must have been a twilight rate & it was great value for money in my opinion.
One thing that would enhance the experience is definitely the addition of an on course Drinks Cart!
Played today rather expensive some nice holes but some very average they seem to let anyone play slowest round I have ever played no Marshalls very poor for the price not to good
Having just played at Sotogrande and Las Brisas, it was probably unfair of me to visit Los Naranjos and compare it to those earlier Robert Trent Jones courses because, frankly, there’s no real comparison to be made – in many regards, you’d be hard pressed to know they were all designed by the same person!
The dreadful artificial lake half way up the hillside on the right side of the 2nd fairway still sends shivers down my spine at its absurdity (though the hole itself is decent, doglegging down from the tee then up to a raised green) and I struggled to get this aquatic carbuncle out of my head for a good few holes.
A stream comes into play at the 4th and 6th, water fronting the green at the first of these holes then running down the left side of the other hole before cutting across the fairway in front of the green. The 9th was easily the best hole on the front nine for me, doglegging left, down then up to a green benched into the hillside with a back right to front left tilt.
At least there’s some decent movement in the land on the outward half because the back nine is laid out on rather flat, dull terrain. The par three 12th is a beautiful short hole but it and the closing par five 18th (notwithstanding the hideous bunker to the right of the tee shot landing area) were the only ones that really took my eye.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such poorly positioned cart paths (long stretches of which are strangely squiggled for no apparent reason) on a golf course. At one point two of these concrete tracks almost cross over on the par four 15th (there’s a picture here which will hopefully prove that I’m not exaggerating) – talk about “lack of fairway definition” as I wrote in my notes at the time!
Still, the person behind the counter in the pro shop told me there were 223 people booked to play on the course the day I was there so the club’s apparently not hurting for custom, despite all the architectural misgivings that obviously upset my fragile golfing sensibilities.